We have teamed up with the Pears Project and The Scout Association and are excited to announce some paid intern opportunities for the coming year. This is a unique opportunity to gain experience and develop skills whilst leading part of a project team. The project aims to open new Scouting provisions across Gloucestershire Scout County (youth sections for young people aged 6-18yrs). The development interns will be lead by a project manager and will work with local volunteers to provide hands on practical support engaging with schools, the community, partnership organisations and parents of the new youth members. The project aims to enable and deliver the recruitment of adults and young people and to open new sustainable Scout provisions in Gloucestershire initially focusing around Cheltenham.
We are looking for a passionate person to help lead Scouting in Gloucestershire. Heading up a team of enthusiastic volunteers, the County Commissioner shapes Scouting throughout the County and enable more people to experience everyday adventure.
If you can think of anyone who might be suitable for this vacancy, or want to put yourself forward for the role hen please fill in the application form.
How things change. May’s General Election seems ages ago now. Yet when I started doing the round of District AGMs it was all so topical. But I would like to start by talking about another election – the US Presidential election of 2008 – when Barak Obama first ran for President and as part of his campaign he used a poster which was no more than his picture and the single word “Change”.
And that was very clever – most people can think of something they would like to change – few people are entirely happy with the status quo – all want to change something. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “There is nothing permanent except change”. The trick of course is getting enough people to agree on changing the same thing in same way at the same time. And it’s the same in Scouting. The Scout Movement has changed so much in recent years. And this year we have been required to make even more changes.
Scouting is not naturally pro-change – it has traditionally tended to attract and retain people who like structures and hierarchies – who are comfortable wearing a uniform – willing to repeat their Promise in public, often several times a year. This provides certainty and continuity, clear values, and as a result Scouting is trusted and valued by the public at large – so why change?
Because, as another American President, John F. Kennedy, said
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”
Everything changes. The question is whether that change is positive or negative. While physics says you cannot have perpetual motion – and everything must come to rest as some point – even a stationary object will eventually rust or rot or decay if left to its own devices. Some things might mature with age for a while but not even the best cheese or wine can mature for ever. So – change is natural – but natural change can also be negative. You kick a ball & it will eventually stop moving and come to rest. You paint a beautiful picture but it will ultimately fade or tarnish. So to counter those negative changes we have to do something about them by making positive ones.
Imagine you have just moved into your ideal home. Either you can preserve it just as the architect intended it to be on the day it was first built, to maintain it for all time as a monument to the people who designed and built it or you can improve it – redecorating – extending – landscaping – modernising – to meet your current and future needs, building on the investments that others have made by investing your own capital in it for yourselves and those who come after you. Which would you do?
Going back to Barak Obama, in the course of his campaign he also said
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
And it’s the same in Scouting. Society is changing, the population is ageing and growing. As it grows it is becoming more risk averse, it is more diverse in all sorts of ways, education is, on average, improving, people are far less deferential and less inhibited than they were. If your house is going to continue to serve you and your family it will need to be put to different uses, with new rooms, doors and windows in different places, the installation of new technology, and adaptations to suit your age and your health.
And so it is with Scouting. If our Movement is going to remain relevant, useful, valued & satisfying, it will have to adapt to the needs not just of its current members but of its future ones too. That is why we are currently seeing so many changes in Scouting.
We have a new Programme for young people – new badges – new requirements – and I hope you are all becoming familiar with it and are deciding how you will offer your young people the challenges and opportunities afforded by it. To support that programme there will also be changes to the adult training scheme as we help one another appreciate the new programme and the ideas behind it.
There are changes to the Scout Network as it becomes a District rather than a County provision – all members aged 18-25 will automatically be enrolled in Network – to allow and encourage them to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities as they transition from being young members to adult leaders.
Next year the annual Membership Fee will no longer payable by over 18s. This means that the Subs charged to young people will increase slightly but it now means there is no longer a financial disincentive for us to recruit more adults as leaders, commissioners, section assistants or Network or Active Support members. Also next year Executive Committee Members (our Trustees) will finally be recognised as full members of the Association – resolving an issue that has been fudged for many years.
On the subject of Executive Committees, we will continue to work at enabling more young people to be involved in our decision making structures, either within their own sections or at Group, District and County level as we strive to make Scouting more youth shaped with the establishment of District and County Youth Councils and the appointment of Youth Commissioners.
And on top of that we this year have the Cub Scout Year of Adventure – a special year long programme of activities for the Cub Section as they prepare for next year, 2016, and the celebration of the centenary of Cub Scouting.
So, these are not changes we have chosen to make locally. The Movement is changing and we need to change to keep up, in order to better serve the communities of which we are part. In fact, we are already changing in many ways as we strive to achieve our strategic objectives of Growth, Inclusivity, Becoming Youth Shaped and Increasing our Community Impact through the implementation of our County Development Plan.
And we have certainly seen some of the effects of that change in recent weeks and months here in Gloucestershire as sections have closed and then re-opened to meet changing needs and requirements, some leaders have come, some have moved and some have left. Change is often difficult, risky and not always successful. Change is sometimes scary and sometimes painful. It is never easy, but it is absolutely necessary.
Thank you very much indeed for all you have done over the last year, for all the changes you have made and all the changes you have tried to make which maybe didn’t work so well. Thank you for trying. And thank you for sticking with it and not giving up. Please keep trying to change, adapting to the changing needs of our members and the society in which we operate. Thanks for everything and I look forward to seeing and hearing more of your achievements over the coming year.
We are periodically reminded that Baden-Powell once remarked that he had founded a “movement not an organisation”. So perhaps, the better champion for change is not Mr Obama, but B-P himself.
30 Scouts from Gloucestershire have arrived at Heathrow to fly off to the World Scout Jamboree in Japan. The Scouts from Gloucestershire will join 4,000 other Scouts from across the UK and 30,000 others from nearly every country in the world for two weeks of activities, fun and making new friends in the most truly international event on the planet.
The UK Scouts are flying to Tokyo for three days in which the capital will be taken over by the Scouts getting to know each other, seeing the sights and taking part in traditional cultural activities, before they travel to the Jamboree site near Yamaguchi City in the South of Japan by Bullet Train.
As well as being a fantastic opportunity for young people, the event is an amazing chance for adult volunteers to take part in activities and learn new skills that they can use in other aspects of their life.
The World Scout Jamboree will include seven days of activities, with modules based around global development, Peace programme (based at Hiroshima) Exploring natures, crossroads of culture and city of science (COS) The COS programme, will deepen the understanding of advances in science and technology and the benefits and problems associated with science.
This programme provides a venue for learning about the development of fuel cells and other energy sources for the future, ecological problems, and robotics and automotive technologies.
Ned, 15, Lechlade said “I can’t believe we are actually here about to go! I have been counting down the days until we . I’m really looking forward to the view from the top of the Sky Tree!”
Rachel, 16, Cheltenham added “I can’t wait to try all the activities they have got planned. I’m most looking forward to meeting new friends from across the world, and staying with a Japanese family after the main camp. This is what makes Jamborees special”
Chief Scout, Bear Grylls said: “While lots of people know that Scouting is all about adventure, they often don’t realise that adult volunteers get to do just as much as our young members through their involvement. The World Scout Jamboree is a great example of this. Over the course of the Jamboree Scouts will be able to meet people from around the world, take part in amazing adventures and experiences and be challenged to think about global issues in a new light. That is why Scouting is one of the greatest youth movement on earth and why I am so proud to be part of it.”
The sun is shining, the breeze is “fresh”, the temperature is just about warm enough to go outdoors without a coat – so it must be St George’s Day or at least the Sunday closest to it, when Scouts around the world renew their Promises and spend a few minutes reflecting why they continue to belong to the largest youth movement in the World!
Whether you spent the day at Windsor Castle with “la crème de la crème” or with your Group or District here in Gloucestershire I hope you were inspired once more by the idea that Scouting is something very special, that it has some incredible members and that it really is a privilege to wear the uniform that we do. On these occasions we use words like “honour” and “duty”, we hear stories of courage and commitment, and we recognise people’s service not only to Scouting but to our neighbours and society. We take pride in the fact that we are not alone but are part of something much bigger. We feel reassured that we are not the only ones who care about the future of young people and the opportunities available to them. And we are gladdened by the idea that this great Movement of ours will continue to serve young people and the community for many years to come.
I was reminded of all this yesterday, when I and others spent some time meeting some of our Activity Assessors – a marvellous group of people. Adventurous activities are inherently dangerous – that’s what makes them both fun and challenging for young people and adults alike and such an important part of our programme. In order to manage that danger, we need to follow the rules which those who have had much more experience than us, have prescribed. One of the advantages of belonging to a large organisation like ours is that we can learn from the experience of others and don’t have to work it all out for ourselves. As a result, whenever we engage in adventurous activities there needs to be someone leading the activity who is sufficiently trained and experienced so that the rest of us can trust that person to keep us and most importantly, our youngsters, safe. We do that by requiring activity leaders to hold permits for the various activities they undertake. And the credibility of those permits is ensured by having highly experienced and qualified Assessors who are willing and able to confirm the ability of that leader to lead such activities.
Yesterday we met two climbers, a hill walker, a skier, an archer and a caver. Some were regular Scouters who had offered to take on this additional responsibility, while others had no involvement in Scouting other than a willingness to help in this way. I have never skied, I’m not that keen on climbing and I hate confined spaces, so to be honest I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of discussing these activities for too long. But in fact I was inspired by the enthusiasm of our Assessors for their sport, their knowledge of their subject and their empathy with and understanding of others who may be interested in the activity but don’t have anything like their level of skill or experience. Their willingness to spend their free time coaching and supporting adults and young people, without compromising on the need to do things properly, was really impressive. We are really fortunate to have such a strong contingent of activity experts in this county who are willing to give their time to Scouting in this way. When people offer their services as Leaders they often talk about “giving something back” in recognition of what they received from Scouting as youngsters. More than one of our Assessors described how they were inspired to take up their sport as a result of the introduction they received through Scouting.
Which brings me back to St George’s Day. Today we have reaffirmed our Promise to “help other people and keep the Scout Law”. Whether we provide that help working with our sections week by week, or by fundraising to enable those meetings to happen, or by planning training events and assessments or simply co-ordinating the whole affair, everyone I meet is committed to giving something back and helping their neighbours, whether in the town or village in which they live or across this global village that we now occupy. Service to one another is key to our Scouting experience. It is one of those things that makes Scouting unique for us. By renewing our Promise today we have rededicated ourselves to serving one another in whatever role is most appropriate for each of us and that, for me at least, is the reason why I choose to continue to belong to this great Movement of ours.
The BBC is currently running a series of Panorama documentaries based on an observation by Norman Kirk, a former New Zealand Prime Minister. People, he said, don’t want much. They want: “Someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.”
The same observation could be applied to young people in general and to our members in particular. It would not be too much of a generalisation to say that by and large young people want friendship, a place to spend their time, a purpose in life and something to look forward to. Our ability to fulfil those needs will have a direct impact on the success of Scouting.
We know as children develop into young adults they need the support of their peers as they find out more about the world and gain the confidence to leave the security of their home and family. Some find it a lot easier than others but the knowledge that they have some friends alongside them is an enormous encouragement when trying new things and going to new places. Lodges, Sixes and Patrols are ready made friendship groups in which children can form lasting relationships. We need to remember that such groupings are not just a convenient means of dividing up the section but are critical to the young person’s identity and status within the section and the security they enjoy as a member of the Colony, Pack or Troop. I have never forgotten the resentment I felt when after four years in primary school my form teacher decided to reorganise the class and moved me from Cowdray House to Petworth House: I never forgave him!
Young people need a place to be, where they can mix with their friends, feel they belong and to be warm, dry and safe. One of the Movement’s “underpinning strategies” is to “support Scouting to find, develop and maintain great physical spaces so we can develop and grow”. We need to make the most of what we already have but also to create and identify new places for young people “to meet and go”. I have recently had a conversation with a Group Scout Leader who could open a new Beaver Colony tomorrow if only he could find somewhere suitable to meet. Groups meet in a variety of different venues ranging from their own headquarters to church, and village halls, schools and community centres. The former are however increasingly costly to heat, light and maintain while the latter are often fully booked especially at the times when we wish to use them. The Guides have recently started Rainbow Units on Saturdays. This may be worth considering for Beavers, especially when an increasing number of willing adults seem to have difficulty in attending early evening meetings.
We all need a purpose in life and young people are no different. They need to be doing interesting and exciting things, some for the first time and others on more than one occasion as they improve their skills and experience. Something that is different to the routine of the school timetable. This is why our Scouting programmes need to be of the highest quality. Another of our underpinning strategies says “we believe all young people should enjoy an inspiring and engaging programme that meets the educational principles of Scouting”. This is crucial to ensuring that our members, of all ages, really look forward to their Pack or Troop meeting and when choices have to be made, choose Scouting in preference to other hobbies and activities. We really need to make sure therefore that programmes are varied, structured, youth-shaped and imaginative. Do you discuss your section’s programme with the members themselves? Do you involve the whole team (including the Young Leaders) in planning each term’s programmes? While it may be more time consuming, it’s often much more fun and productive than struggling away on your own.
What do young people hope for? What do they look forward to? Children and young people will answer this question on a number of levels. Many will aspire to a career or professional qualifications. Others may want to travel and explore the world. But they will also have shorter term goals, to achieve a particular award, to attend a camp or take part in an expedition. Just at the moment a good number will be looking forward to taking part in next month’s Gloucester Gang Show. Scouting is great at setting targets and helping youngsters achieve them – sometimes over weeks and sometimes over a number of years. Our award scheme is good at that. But it also means we as leaders need to plan ahead. I hope that most Cubs, Scouts and Explorers are now looking forward to a summer camp or expedition. Leaders need to be planning such events now if the young people are going to get really excited about the forthcoming events and their interest is to be sustained over the coming months. Scouting needs to appeal not just to a young person’s immediate concerns but also to their wider ambitions and give them something to aim for and give them something positive to hang on to when life’s obstacles and difficulties seem to get in the way.
So what do young people want? Dare I say, they would on this analysis, appear to want Scouting, – not just Scouting but good Scouting – with their friends, in a place they can call their own, doing enjoyable tasks with ambitious goals in view. Scouting can meet all these needs – with your care and hard work, it most certainly will.
On Saturday 21 February, UK Youth Commissioner, Hannah Kentish, came to Cranham. This is what she put on her blog:
Visiting Gloucestershire was incredibly exciting for me; it was the first time I had the chance to deliver what I’m coining as a ‘Bite-size YouShape’. During this, we tackled questions around barriers, successes and future ideas to promote young people having their voices heard on a District and County level.
Some really great ideas came out of the session – it was such an inspired and motivated group. The most exciting thing was the desire for a better process to ensure youth representatives at District/County committee meetings can fairly and accurately voice the opinions and ideas of the other young people in their area.
The group I chatted with decided to start a youth forum on a County level with the support from their County team, ensuring there is a place for youth members to discuss their thoughts and concerns in an environment where they will be supported and encouraged by adult volunteers. They hope for this to also be rolled out on a District level, to give even more young people in Gloucestershire the chance to have their voices heard – fantastic!
It’s 22nd February, Founder’s Day, and the Scouting year is getting off to a busy start. Yesterday we welcomed Hannah Kentish, UK Youth Commissioner, to Cranham to meet some Explorers and Network Members to discuss how all young members can get their ideas across and shape the future of Scouting in Gloucestershire. And, today we have had the County Scout Cooking Competition at Shurdington’s Group HQ. Although only four Districts were represented, the teams worked really hard and presented some fantastic meals for the judges to sample. Have a look at the photos on Shurdington’s website. Congratulations to 15th Gloucester (St Peter’s) who will go through to next month’s regional final together with 1st Hatherley as runners-up. A special mention also to 1st Swindon Village who took third place and Deer Park Kemble who won the best dessert.
Next weekend I am driving a minibus to London for 1st Upton St Leonards Cubs which is usually a great trip. It’s wonderful to see the Cubs’ reactions when, often for the first time, they see landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, which they have previously only seen on TV. They will talk about it for weeks to come.
We know that none of these activities can take place without teams of skilled and dedicated people to make them happen. However, we are finding more and more vacancies in roles across the county, especially in those “managerial” roles like GSL and DC. They may not be everyone’s first choice for a spare time activity but they are increasingly necessary and often very rewarding. Also, at County level we now have a number of roles that need filling, particularly around adult training where we have relied increasingly on the County Training Manager, Adrian Austin, to keep things operating. However, Adrian himself has now been offered a role with the Scouts Wales national team which has meant he will be standing down from his Gloucestershire roles in the next couple of months. It is therefore all the more vital that we fill these roles or the important work of delivering and assessing adult training will come to a complete stop.
Therefore if you think you could do with a change and fancy taking on a new role I would be delighted to hear from you. Over the next four weeks, I will be trying to speak to as many people as possible to gauge their hopes and interests leading up to a drop-in session at Cranham on Saturday 14 March between 10.30am and 3pm. If that’s not convenient for you, please drop me a line (email@example.com) telling me what you think or suggesting a time to discuss your ideas.
I appreciate that ideally we would all like to be asked personally to consider taking on a new role. Unfortunately across a county like ours that is not possible so please don’t be shy. If you are interested in developing your skills and experiences through Scouting please contact me. Do not worry about expressing an interest in a job that someone else is already doing. They may just be waiting for you to come along before stepping down or would welcome someone to work alongside them and share the load. You may think you cannot move on because no-one would come forward to run your Scout Troop or Cub Pack. Sometimes we don’t know until we create the vacancy.
I look forward to hearing from lots of leaders who are experienced and enthusiastic about their Scouting but would like a new challenge and the chance to try out some of their own ideas. Please get in touch, in confidence, to discuss your ideas. Who knows where it might lead!
Zacary Evans, the young man who was killed in a machete attack in Gloucester, was a Scout at 41st Gloucester, St George’s Scout Group and was proud to be in the organisation. He had been a Beaver and a Cub and, more recently had wanted to become a leader at the Group.
He conducted his life with honour and pride.He made it his duty to see bullying wasn’t affecting all around. His bravery resulted in him losing his life, protecting his friends. Please say a prayer or hold a minute’s clapping in memory of this brave, young man.
In late 2013 Rodborough Scouts members decided they would like to challenge themselves to complete the Cotswold Way in 2014 by doing day hikes.
On 16th January 2014 we started at Chipping Camden in bright sunshine– with one young leader, 3 scouts, 1 beaver, 2 leaders, 1 sectional assistant, 1 parent and a dog. Through the year we did 11 walks with two in August done as overnight expeditions involving the original group plus another 7 scouts, 1 young leader, 4 parents, 1 sibling and another dog.
We finished at Bath Abbey with all the originally group, plus some extras on a festive 30th November with carol singers and a band and then went for a group meal to celebrate and to thank our main car driver and supporter Andrea.
In all 10 people completed the whole length of the Cotswold Way, including a Beaver scout who had just turned 8 years old. Along the way scouts learnt route planning, map reading, camping and expedition skills, got very muddy on one particularly walk in to Broadway, were harassed by cows on several occasions and enjoyed great views over the countryside especially from the Tyndale monument.